LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is in the midst of divorce proceedings with his wife, acknowledged he is in a relationship with a Spanish-language television reporter, according to a statement published Tuesday.
The mayor and his wife separated last month after 20 years of marriage. Corina Villaraigosa filed for divorce June 12, a day after the mayor told reporters in a City Hall news conference that he took the blame for his crumbling marriage.
At the time, he wouldn't answer whether he was romantically involved with someone else, citing his family's privacy.
But Villaraigosa issued a statement, published Tuesday by the Los Angeles Daily News, acknowledging his involvement with Telemundo newswoman Mirthala Salinas, after the paper told the mayor it was set to publish a story about their relationship.
"It is true that I have a relationship with Ms. Mirthala Salinas. As I've said I take full responsibility for my actions, and I once again ask that people respect my family's privacy. For my part, I intend to stay focused on my job, and to work as hard as I can every day to be the best mayor I can be," Villaraigosa said.
Salinas did not respond to repeated requests from the paper for an interview. Corina Villaraigosa, through the mayor's office, declined an interview with the paper
Telemundo spokesman Alfredo Richard said the station wouldn't comment on employees' personal lives, but described her duties at the station.
He said Salinas moved off the political beat, which includes coverage of the mayor, about 11 months ago. He said her move to backup anchor and general correspondent was intended as an expansion of Salinas' responsibilities at the station.
"We think she is a great reporter and professional," Richard said.
The announcement last month of a split between Villaraigosa and his wife came about four months after the mayor alluded to "ups and downs" in the relationship, amid reports he was spotted without his wedding ring.
In court papers, Corina Villaraigosa cited "irreconcilable differences" as the reason for ending their marriage.
She seeks spousal support and primary physical custody of the couple's 14-year-old daughter, Natalia, with visitation terms to be worked out with the mayor, according to the filing.
The couple also have an 18-year-old son, Antonio Jr., and the mayor has two adult daughters from previous relationships.
Villaraigosa has carefully tended an image as a devoted family man, but his marriage has shown signs of trouble in the past.
His wife filed for divorce in 1994, but the couple reconciled after a two-and-a-half year split.
Messages left by The Associated Press after-hours with Villaraigosa's office and at Telemundo, whose parent company is NBC Universal, were not immediately returned.